As the great Jim Mora once said: “Playoffs?”
Yes, Jim — the playoffs are here.
The 2020 season has been strange — maybe the strangest ever — but despite cancellations, uncertainty and doubt, the Iowa high school football playoffs will begin this Friday.
We have a couple of teams I suspect will make some noise. Camanche has a Week 1 bye and the Indians are red hot. They’ve shown no weaknesses in the past six games and have several elite playmakers — quarterback Michael Delzell, running back Cade Everson and receiver Jordan Lawrence have led an offense that can’t be stopped, and linebacker Eric Kinkaid is the anchor of a defense that has consistently shut down its opponents.
In the 8-man playoffs, Easton Valley has a slam dunk game against Dunkerton in the first round and with the plethora of playmakers on the River Hawks’ roster — Kolton Murphy, Conor Gruver, Carson and Porter Fuegen to name a few — I suspect they’ll do big things.
I came to Iowa from Michigan, where football was not immediately played this fall, until the state overturned its decision and let teams play. Illinois still hasn’t played. With the benefit of hindsight, I think not playing fall sports was the wrong move for Illinois.
Iowa showed that while it wasn’t perfect, teams were still able to safely get a season in and at the end of the day, it’s not like COVID-19 is going to be gone in the spring, when Illinois is supposedly going to play football. From all indications, we will still be waiting for a vaccine —a rushed vaccine, at that — and will have just gone through what some experts expect to be a rough winter with coronavirus cases still climbing. Plus, some coaches told me the spring is the worst time of the year for grass fields.
We’ll see what happens this spring, but for now, I’m glad we still have football to look forward to in Iowa.
The other big news last week was the passing of legend Eddie Van Halen. Just typing those words feels weird. I covered Camanche’s Week 7 game against Maquoketa and was pleased to hear the Camanche event staff almost-exclusively playing Van Halen songs. Van Halen has had an indelible impact on the world of sports — no basketball game, whether it be a middle school game or Game 7 of the NBA Finals, is complete without playing the song “Jump.” It almost feels weird when it’s not played. It’s the ultimate pre-game warmup song. Nothing comes close.
Speaking of basketball, LeBron James added another ring to his collection, as the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, wrapping it up with a Game 6 win Sunday night. While it’s easy to root against the Lakers, I think this season everybody was a Lakers fan to some degree. 2020 has brought a lot of awful things, but it started with the passing of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in January. The Lakers needed some positivity this year, so for once I can say I rooted for LeBron.
That’s all I got for this week. I’ll see everyone next Tuesday.
Oh, I almost forgot: the Oakland Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Add that to the list of sentences you might never hear again, but hey, I’ll take it. Go Raiders. Sorry, not sorry, Chiefs fans.
What I’m watching: Every Charlie Kaufman movie ever made. I saw “Being John Malkovich” (1999), “Adaptation” (2002) and “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” (2004) all for the first time last week and I’m hooked.
What I’m listening to: “Van Halen” by Van Halen. The group’s self-titled debut is their best album. I can’t get the “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” riff out of my head.
Underdog of the week is: the Kansas City Chiefs. I can actually say they’re kind of an underdog. Amazing.
Quote of the week: “It’s always a catch-22 situation. They hate you if you’re the same, and they hate you if you’re different.” — Eddie Van Halen